Going the Extra Mile


With the summer fast approaching, many students are facing the start, or the continuation of, their GCSEs or A ‘Levels in September.

Although it is very important to have a break from work during the summer, it is also the ideal time to get a head start on your studies.

Here are five ways to ensure you start (or continue) your exam years as productively as possible.

1. Find out which textbooks you will be expected to use during the academic year ahead. Either buy them or borrow them from the library.

2. After reading through these standard textbooks, go one further, and find additional books about related subjects. For example, if you are about to study GCSE History, don’t just rely on the revision guide. Use the Internet and library to find additional information on Modern Germany, the History of Medicine etc. Research has shown that students who read around the subject in this way consistently score better grades in their final exams than those who don’t.

3. If your geographical location allows, visit places related to your studies, relevant museums, art galleries etc.

4. If you are midway through your studies and have projects or essays to complete, resist the temptation to rush through your work. Create a rough draft of your project first. Read through what you have written several times before considering your assignment complete. Always edit everything you write.

5. Don’t forget to reference your work with all the sources you’ve used. Include those extra texts online and in book form that you have used when reading around the subject.

Going the extra mile for your studies in this way will increase your own knowledge and make the year of work ahead much easier. After all, you’ve insured you’re ahead of the game- you’ll already have done your background studies.

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Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.

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